How free are we, and how do we define freedoms? We can define freedoms as being able to worship how and where we want. The freedom to grow our wealth and to cultivate our own economic prosperity. Having the freedom as an individual to decide our own destiny. These choices also bear the individual’s responsibility. Maybe a better question is; “How are we Free?” What is the measurement, the benchmark, of being free? To what degree or percentage can you call yourself “free”?
A tree without leaves will not grow, and that’s only what you see above the ground. The roots of the tree find nutrients in the ground to grow and produce the leaves. It is the leaves on the tree that absorb the sun’s rays and consumes carbon dioxide as nourishment. An analogy could be made about freedom and the tree. Freedom is analogous to the health of the tree.
Recently, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University did a comprehensive study on the fifty States and ranked them on their degree of freedom. The study looked at each State’s public policies that affect individual economic and social freedoms. It examines the state and local government laws and regulations that affect a wide range of public policies, from taxes to homeschooling, from gun control to drug policy.
Hawai’i ranked 47th overall, 46th economic, and 43 personal.
Hawaii has much room to improve. On the spending side, the state is highly fiscally centralized due to its unique statewide school system, but despite being freed from the burden of paying for schools, local governments have to raise over 80 percent of their funds through own-source taxes, the highest figure in the country. Sales, individual income, and motorvehicle-license taxes are high. Gun laws are among the worst in the country, and the marijuana regime is fairly restrictive. Hawaii has the second strictest gambling laws in the country, after Utah: The only type of gaming permitted is social. Educational regulation is excessive, with private schools having to obtain state approval to operate, significant homeschool regulations, and school attendance mandated through age 18. Smoking bans are universal in restaurants, bars, workplaces, and public places without any exceptions. On the other side of the ledger, the asset forfeiture regime is reasonable, limited same-sex domestic partnerships are recognized, and victimless crimes (excluding drug) make up just 3.5 percent of all arrests, while the drug-arrest rate is also much better than average. On labor law the state government is interventionist, with a prevailing-wage law, strict workers’ compensation requirements, mandatory short-term disability insurance, and a state occupational safety and health agency. Hawaii has not reformed eminent domain, and the state liability system is far below average. On health insurance the state is surprisingly laissez-faire, with no community rating and fewer mandates than average.
Where does your State rank?
Click on the map to find out
How International Regulations Hurt Our Island Economy
Hawai’i county council member Pete Hoffmann introduced another set of restrictive regulations to the building codes. I’ve mentioned this Jackass, Pete Hoffmann before where he wanted to put a ban on plastic bags. In this building code regulations, Hoffmann’s view of Socialist Engineering includes, a hurricane safe room, in-home sprinkler systems, hot water systems must be solar, and insulation to Post and Pier homes.
First, if and when a hurricane happens, the local government will force mandatory evacuations, so why do we need safe rooms?
Second, adding in-home sprinkler systems will increase the overall cost of building a home.
Third, solar hot water systems are only good where the sun shines. That will require you to cut down trees in order to clear enough room for solar to work properly. Windward residents have numerous cloudy and rainy days which make solar unreliable. I use a propane hot water on demand system which is very energy efficient and very cost effective.
Fourth, insulation under post and pier homes is simply ridicules and expensive. We live in the tropics, it’s simply not needed. These are just some of the standards that Pete “The Jackass” Hoffmann wants to burden the homeowner with.
The regulations are based on the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). While this may be appropriate for State and County office buildings, it is also appropriate for some large businesses. However, the regulations are too restrictive for homeowners. It puts a larger cost burden on small business owners. Why are we adopting standards when they don’t apply to us?
The cost burden of government regulations does not stop at the State or County level, it also include the Federal governments regulations and taxes. It’s bad enough that the government is picking and choosing which companies will succeed and which will fail, but some companies don’t pay any taxes as a result of government intervention. General Electric was one of those companies that posted a profit of $5.1 Billion, but paid no taxes. How could they do this?
In a regulatory filing just a week before the Japanese disaster put a spotlight on the company’s nuclear reactor business, G.E. reported that its tax burden was 7.4 percent of its American profits, about a third of the average reported by other American multinationals. Even those figures are overstated, because they include taxes that will be paid only if the company brings its overseas profits back to the United States. With those profits still offshore, G.E. is effectively getting money back.
Meanwhile, Boeing is prevented by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from moving its 787 Dreamliner production to South Carolina. Boeing could not get the no-strike concession from the hostile Labor Unions and decided to move its operations to South Carolina, a Right to Work state that does not require workers to be unionized. It’s good for Boeing, it’s good for the State of South Carolina, and it’s good for Boeing’s customers. Everyone, except for the labor unions, which are openly hostile towards businesses and the individual workers freedoms. The unions would rather hurt Boeing, its workers and its customers for their own greed.
Freedoms are being decided by the government. Who will succeed and who will fail. The idea of any company, deemed by the government to be “Too Big To Fail“, hurts the freedom of the entire business community. It puts an unfair disadvantage on other businesses competing against businesses supported by the government. The government is using unions as political capitol.
On behalf of the small business owners in North Carolina, Mr. Geithner, you are wrong!
Geithner’s explanation of the administration’s small-business tax plan came in an exchange with first-term Rep. Renee Ellmers (R.-N.C.). Ellmers, a nurse, decided to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 after she became active in the grass-roots opposition to President Barack Obama’s proposed health-care reform plan in 2009.
The Obama Regime’s solution to our economic freedoms is to raise taxes on small businesses. Then again, the Obama Regime thinks like Pete “Jackass” Hoffmann, they think we need more government making decisions in our lives. More central planning by elected bureaucrats. More government revenue through higher taxes. It seems allowing the free markets to obtain more freedom isn’t in the governments idea of prosperity. Obama said, “we cannot cut our way to prosperity“!
We can neither spend nor tax our way into prosperity either. By doing so just takes more freedoms away. If you keep pruning the leaves off the tree, it will eventually cease to grow. This is just several examples of where the government has interfered with freedoms.
In the example of the tree, the states that enjoy the greatest freedom and prosperity are those that have the least amount of government regulations and taxation. Allowing the tree the freedom to grow on its own will eventually bear the fruit of prosperity. By clearing away the weeds and dead branches will allow the tree to continue to grow into a long and healthy freedom.
That should be the role of government in preserving and nurturing freedoms
What’s For Dinner?
Singapore Noodles with Shrimp